My youngest daughter turned six yesterday. I think I should have been the one getting the presents.
Having Katie pretty near killed me. Five days before Katie was born I called my husband at work, called my mother at work, and told them both to get home because the baby was coming. Mom arrived to look after Rebecca, and Keith and I went to the hospital where they pronounced me not in labour.
Two nights later, at 2:00 a.m., I woke up my husband, called my mother, and ventured to the hospital again, certain that this time this was it. They told me it wasn’t.
The next night it happened again. Katie was my third baby. It’s not like I didn’t know what contractions felt like. These felt like contractions. I hadn’t slept for a week. And worst of all, people were starting to get mad at me. When I called my mother at midnight two nights later, she almost wouldn’t come. She was exhausted, and she had a meeting first thing in the morning. My husband told me that I better be sure this time.
Luckily, as soon as we arrived they said the baby was coming, hooked me up to the IV and told me to relax. Within a few minutes, though, I had the nurse back in the room. “The epidural’s not working,” I said. “I feel pain. I’m not supposed to feel
“Oh, the epidural just hasn’t kicked in,” she replied nonchalantly, walking out of the room.
I started reciting. That breathing thing never really worked for me. It didn’t distract me enough. So when Rebecca was born, I tried reciting “The Lord is My Shepherd” instead. It required concentration, but I knew it well enough that I could pull it off. The Lord is my Shepherd helped me through Rebecca, and it helped me through Christopher. But this was different. This was PAIN.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not—get that nurse back in here, NOW!—want, He
makes me lie down—why are you still standing there? NOW!—in green pastures…”
By the time the doctor arrived I was starting to forget the words. “He makes me lie down” (WHACK! WHACK! in Keith’s stomach) “WHERE? Where does He make me LIE DOWN?”
Keith said, “In green pastures, honey, in green pastures.”
“In green pastures. He leadeth me—WHERE?” (WHACK WHACK).
“Oomph. Beside still waters. And honey, you have tension in your jaw. Remember? Don’t clench your teeth, honey. We want loose, not tension.”
WHACK WHACK. “FINE. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall NOT (WHACK) CLENCH (WHACK) MY TEETH (WHACK WHACK).”
The nurse later commented that in all her years in the delivery room, she had heard the Lord’s name used in many creative ways, but never quite like that.
Katie came along pretty soon after that. She was 9 ½ pounds (and I’m pretty tiny). I have never quite forgiven her. She was also really ugly. She was all purple and wrinkled and looked odd. I can say that, of course, because she is absolutely gorgeous now. If she were still ugly, I’d never admit I thought so then.
Unfortunately, my mother failed to load the film in our camera correctly (something which all but cancels out the lack of sleep I gave her that week), so we don’t have any pictures of her first few days. By the time the pictures turned out she was no longer as ugly. So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I can look back on the whole thing and laugh now. You really do forget the pain. During my pregnancy with Katie, I threw up prolifically, I had constant searing pain in my legs, and I had contractions for the last two months. She also gave me with varicose veins I had to eventually have removed (now there’s a gross surgery). And when I look at her today, I know I’d do it again in a minute. So maybe I don’t need a present. Maybe all I need to do is watch her as she plays and sings, and kiss her tonight as she sleeps. She’ll always be my big, fat, ugly baby that I love more than I can imagine. Happy birthday, honey.